Vice President Joe Biden has apologized for using the word “shylocks” in a speech Tuesday, saying he made a “poor choice of words.”
Speaking at the Legal Services Corporation’s 40th anniversary conference Tuesday, Biden used the term when describing his son Beau’s experiences helping members of the military who had received bad loans and mortgages.
“People would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being -- I mean, these shylocks who took advantage of these women and men while overseas,” he said.
Shylock is the name of a character – who is a ruthless moneylender and is Jewish - in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice.
In a statement first provided to Yahoo News, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said the vice president “should have been more careful.”
“Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day,” Foxman said Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Biden apologized for using the term.
“Abe Foxman has been a friend and advisor of mine for a long time,” Biden said in a statement. “He’s correct, it was a poor choice of words, particularly as he said coming from ‘someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden.’ He’s right."